Friday, December 13, 2013

Manger Scene: Joseph

Manger Scene: Joseph
By J. Barrie Shepherd
Copyright 1979: The Christian Century

So where do I stand now?

Oh yes, right here beside Mary. 

I realize that:  
Looking protective, paternal, and just a bit weary, leaning on the staff that holds the lantern. 

But what I mean is, just where do I stand paternity-wise, if you catch my point? 

The angel's message was, the child is God's, not mine, and not to worry. 

All well and good for him to say, but I'm only a rough village carpenter not accustomed even to angels let alone the Son of God.

And what about Mary, my Mary, young, still innocent Mary?  

The child has her open, trusting look -- I'm sure of that already.  

Yet how will Mary be the mother of the Messiah, wipe the tears, and mend the bruises of the Key of David, Israel's hope? 

“Not to worry”... I ask you!

Then where do I begin to explain to the authorities rich gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh?  "Just how did you get your calloused hands on these, Joseph the carpenter?" 
There's a good question to start not worrying about. 

So where do I stand? 

I guess where I began: 
Right here, beside Mary, still protective, paternal, and just a bit worried, leaning on the Lord who sheds his holy light of love upon this scene, and far across our wintered world 
this frigid night.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Blessed Mother's Nightmare

The Blessed Mother’s Nightmare
Author Unknown
   I had a dream, Joseph. I don’t understand it -- not really.  But I think it was about a birthday celebration for Jesus.  I think that was what it was all about.

   The people in the dream had been preparing for it for about six weeks. They had decorated the house and bought new clothes. They'd gone shopping many times and bought elaborate gifts. 

   It was peculiar, though, because the presents weren’t for Jesus.  They wrapped them in beautiful paper and tied them with lovely bows, and stacked them under a tree. Yes, a tree, Joseph, right in their house! They'd decorated the tree also.  The branches were full of glowing balls and sparkling ornaments.  There was a figure on the top of the tree. It looked like an angel might look. 

   Oh, it was beautiful! Everyone was laughing and happy. They were all excited about the gifts. But they gave the gifts to each other, Joseph, not to Jesus. I don't think they even knew Him. They never mentioned His name. 

   Doesn't it seem odd for people to go to all that trouble to celebrate someone's birthday if they don't know Him? I had the strangest feeling that if Jesus had gone to this celebration, He would have been intruding. 

  Everything was so beautiful, Joseph, and everything was so nice, but it made me want to cry.  How sad for Jesus -- not to be wanted at His own birthday party. 

I'm glad it was only a dream.  

How terrible, Joseph, if it had been real. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Solemnity Of Christ The King: Consider Yourself Very Blessed, Or Admit To Yourself That You Are Cowardly And Ashamed

From the Holy Gospel According To Saint  Luke  [Lk. 23:35-43]
The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, "He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God." Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, "If you are King of the Jews, save yourself."  Above him there was an inscription that read, "This is the King of the Jews."
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us."
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal."  Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

A story goes: Once, the top Brass from the Army, Navy and Marines were in the Pentagon, arguing about which of them had the bravest Troops.  They decided to settle the argument with a bet, involving an Enlisted Man from each Branch of the Service, to see which one had the most guts.
The Army General went first.  He called an Army Private in and ordered him to climb to the top of the Pentagon flagpole while singing "The National Anthem."  Then, at the top of the flagpole, salute and jump off.  The Private responded with a simple "Yes, Sir!" and he immediately followed his orders, climbed the flagpole singing, and jumped from the top of the flagpole.  An ambulance came and took the Army Private away.
The Navy Admiral and the Marine Commander were not impressed.  The Navy Admiral ordered a Sailor to climb the flagpole while singing "Anchors Aweigh," to polish the brass knob at the top, to salute, and then to jump off.  The Sailor said, "Aye-Aye, Sir," and followed the Admiral's orders to the letter.  An ambulance came and took the Sailor away. 
The Marine Commander just smiled and called a Marine Private over, and started screaming orders at him.  The young Marine was ordered to climb to the top of the flagpole while singing “Semper Fidelis” – wearing full battle gear, with his pack filled with 300 pounds of bricks, with one arm tied behind his back, barefoot, blindfolded – and then, at the top of the pole, salute and jump off.  The Marine Private remained standing there in front of his Commanding Officer. The Commander screamed into his face: ‟You got a problem with that, Marine?”  The Marine Private looked the Commander right in the eyes, and said, "Sir:  Yes, Sir! You must be out of your mind, Sir!"
The Marine Commander turned to the Army General and the Navy Admiral and said proudly,  "Now, gentlemen, that is guts!"  No ambulance was required.

To speak the truth, and to accept and to live what we know in our hearts is right and morally justified, is to follow Christ.  To follow Him even when He is walking on His Way to the Cross.  It requires guts.
In your life as a Roman Catholic so far:

If you have never been criticized because you are a practicing Catholic;
If you have never been humiliated or cursed at for standing up for the truth or 
   speaking out against immorality, sin or evil;
If you have never experienced prejudice and bigotry, never been hated because of 
   your loyalty to Christ and His Church and His Church's Teachings;

Then, consider yourself very blessed to have been spared those ordeals. 
Or admit to yourself that you are cowardly and ashamed to be publicly known as a follower of Christ.

Courage, humility, selflessness, and trust are demanded of those who would pledge their allegiance to and follow the example of Christ, our Crucified King!

Annually, on the 34th and final Sunday of the Church's Liturgical Year -- The Solemnity Of Our Lord Jesus Christ The King -- Our Crucified and Risen King issues challenges to us.  

He challenges us to prove to Him that we fully accept, and proclaim
   and live the Truths He has taught us in His Gospel.
He challenges us to continue proclaiming or to start proclaiming the Truth about 
   God’s unwavering Love for all men and women.  
He challenges us to prove that we trust and live the Truth about the 
   never-failing Promise that good will triumph over evil, that light will 
   destroy the darkness. 
He challenges us to fully accept and proclaim the Truth by living the 
   moral teachings of our Catholic Faith – teachings which have remained 
   and will forever remain rock-solid, relevant, and true – long after trendy fads 
   and self-indulgences prove to be nothing but evil and empty lies. 


And, yes, it is demanding and it is difficult.  

But it is not impossible, as the thousands of Saints have proven over 2000 years!

Following our Crucified and Risen King is the only path that leads us beyond our  times and our  world ... to live forever in the timeless, infinite vision of the glory of God in Heaven!

We all say that we want that: That we want to enter Heaven and eternal joy.  

We all request from Christ Our Crucified King what Saint Dismas, the Repentant Thief, requested from Him as they were dying on crosses:
"Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

We all make that request.

But, while you are requesting that from Him, 

do you have the guts to follow Him?  
The guts to prove how much you desire to be with Him in Heaven?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Frightening Stats Regarding Internet Pornography - and - How To Overcome Pornography Addiction

Academicians, I ran across these brief but very informative videos from our friends at Catholic Answers.

More and more men - including Catholic men - are succumbing to the incredibly subtle yet extremely destructive sin of viewing pornographic images or watching pornographic videos which are pandemic on the internet.

-  Every second:   $3,075.64 is spent on pornography;
                            28,258 people are viewing pornography;
                            372 people are typing adult search terms.
-  Every 39 minutes:  A new pornographic video is created in the United States.
-  $13.33 billion was spent in the porn industry in 2006.
-  U.S. porn revenue exceeds the combined revenues of ABC, CBS and NBC.
-  There are 4.2 Million pornographic websites (12% of total websites).
-  42.7% of internet users view pornography.
-  72 Million worldwide internet users visit adult sites per month.

(Source: Top Ten Reviews

-  Porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter

(Source: Huff Post Tech

Matt Fradd was addicted to pornography.  He is Australian by birth and Catholic by choice. After experiencing a profound conversion at World Youth Day in Rome in 2000, Matt committed himself to inviting others to know Jesus Christ and the Church He founded. As a missionary in Canada and Ireland, Matt proclaimed the Gospel to over ten thousand teens and young adults. Matt has also served the Church through full-time lay ministry in Australia, Ireland, Canada and Texas.

Matt has been a guest on the BBC, EWTN, ABC and Catholic Answers Live, where he has shared his personal story of sin, redemption, and healing to people all over the world. Matt lives in Southern California with his wife and three children, where he works as an Apologist and Speaker with Catholic Answers.

and their DVD based parent workshop kit:
UNFILTERED: Equipping Parents for an Ongoing Conversation about Internet Pornography, which features Catholic experts who can help educate parents about the dangers of pornography,
The Biochemistry of Porn Addiction-How Your Brain Gets Hijacked.

If you are addicted, you can escape from porn's hold on you.
Our Lord wants to help you save yourself and to be holy and happy again.
Trust Him. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

GOD: Dead? Or Alive?,9171,835309,00.html
April 8, 1966

From the Holy Gospel According to Saint Luke  [20:27-38]
Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us, If someone's brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless.   Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless.  Finally the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her."
Jesus said to them, "The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called out 'Lord,' the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."

"God is not God of the dead, but of the living..." Our Lord Jesus said.   
For some people, unfortunately, God is dead. 

Is your God "dead" or "alive"?

Do you pray to a dead God?
To a lucky charm you rub with prayers when things go bad?  

Or are your prayers directed to  the Living God? 
To God who speaks to your heart and gives you direction, and purpose to every choice and challenge in your life?

Do you hear the ranting of a dead God? 
Who constantly condemns,  who seeks only the destruction of the wicked;  who demands, threatens and punishes human beings into submission and obedience?  

Or do you hear the Voice of  the Living God?
Who welcomes you and forgives you;  Who constantly raises you up when you fall;  Whose compassion and desire for reconciliation with His children knows no limits and has no conditions attached?

Do you believe in a dead God?  
Who requires that you have your "spiritual ticket punched" in church on Sunday mornings?  Who never ventures out of His "house", your Parish Church?  Who never ventures out of the compartment of your life where you have enshrined (that is, chained) Him?  
Or do you believe in the Living God?
Who is constantly present in your life,  with you at the family dinner table or at the office conference table?  

Do you believe in the Living God?  
Who is the object and center of your life, and not just an accessory?

Our God is not a God of death -- not a God of remoteness, or passivity, or separation.  
Our God is the God of life, of joy, hope, and re-creation.

Very often, we try to make God fit our image of Him.  And by forcing God to fit our yardstick of what is right and wrong --  by forcing God to fit our expectations of who is worthy of blessing and who is worthy of damnation --  we kill, within our souls, the image of the One, True God.

The hypothetical situation the Sadducees concocted to trap the Lord Jesus  reflects a very shallow image of God and His love for human beings.  The Sadducees' behavior mirrors to our tendency to see God as the end of life rather than the beginning of life.  

The Sadducees demonstrate how we try to squeeze and pry God into our image  rather than see ourselves as being made in God's image.   The Sadducees' behavior illustrates how we try to confine God to our rules and expectations,  to our legalistic, "tit-for-tat" reasoning of how we say things should be.

And so, for some people, God is dead.  Forcing God to fit our yardstick and our expectations,  kills, within our souls, the true image of the One, Life-giving  God.  

This can only happen if we allow our spiritual lives to die of neglect and hunger.  

Our spiritual life is the "yes" we give to God's Word made known to us in Jesus Christ; 
our spiritual life is a journey toward God;  it is a process of deepening our relationships 
with GOD and with one another, as the Lord Jesus taught us.

If we let our spiritual lives just hobble along, crippled, avoiding every opportunity God offers us to know Him better, avoiding every opportunity to feel His love for us, avoiding every opportunity to conquer our sinful habits, to do works of charity, to do penance to fast, to pray, and to meet Him in His Sacred Scriptures -- then, God will be dead to us.  

When we allow our spiritual life to wither and deteriorate, then our image of the living God will fade away -- because our spiritually deprived imaginations will eclipse the image of the living God with a distorted image of a dead, lifeless God.

Thanks be to God for His Son, our Lord Jesus.  Our Lord Jesus opens up our narrow vision of God beyond the limits of our imagination -- to allow us to see the possibilities for forgiveness, generosity, and humility that are the life and the love that the Living God has for us!

Our response to the Lord Jesus' call to be His disciples  begins with opening our minds and our spirits  to becoming what God intends us to become: God's very cherished children.  

To become "the children of God,”  “the ones who will rise," we must renew our spiritual lives through immersing ourselves in the Gospel's vision of love of God and of neighbor, 
and by prayer and selfless service, and by the Sacraments of Eucharist and of Reconciliation.

"God is not God of the dead, but of the living..." Our Lord Jesus said.  

So, is your God "dead" or "alive"?

May what Saint Paul prayed for, for all of us who follow Jesus Christ, be granted to us, God’s children:
"May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ." 
[2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5],9171,941816,00.html
December 26, 1969 - Cover Credit: PETER GEE

Friday, October 18, 2013

Five Truths About Prayer

Prayer is inconceivably powerful!   
Prayer is the most powerful form of energy a person can generate.  
Prayer exerts a force on reality: a force as real as the force of gravity.   
Prayer DOES influence the outcome of events.  
Prayer CAN change the lives of people. 
For example: The deconstruction of Soviet Communism in Russia, and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, were not achieved by the leaders, nor by diplomats, nor by the military. The wall, and Soviet Communism, came down because of the Rosary.  Our Blessed Mother asked us to pray for the conversion of Russia. It took 28 years of praying. And the wall came down.

Prayer positively affects our bodies and minds.
The influence of prayer on the human mind and body is just like the influence that the hundreds of glands inside our bodies have on us.  Those glands work without us being aware of them -- and so does prayer. 

We must persevere at praying. 
To experience the power of prayer, to exert prayer’s  force upon reality, we must do what Moses did in Exodus 17:8-13.  The Amalekites came and waged war against Israel. As long as Moses kept his hands raised up in prayer to GOD, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight. When Moses got tired after hours and hours of praying, in order to continue praying, Moses asked for support from his companions, Aaron and Hur, who held up his arms so he could continue praying. They also joined Moses in praying.

You and your spouse or family members or friends can agree to pray every morning or evening at the same time, whether together or privately, even “long-distance.” 
It helps to know that while you are praying in your room, your spouse or child or parent or friend is praying simultaneously but in another room, or even another city.
But, persevering in a daily period of prayer still is not enough!  
We must also persevere from day-to-day and from week-to-week.  
We must become persistent in praying.  
Just as persistent as the Widow was in seeking a just decision from the corrupt Judge, in Saint Luke’s Gospel -- Luke 18:1-8 --
Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, "There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared GOD nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, 'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.'  For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, 'While it is true that I neither fear GOD nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'"
The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.  Will not GOD then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.  But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
We must have a regular time for praying, every day! 
These days, everyday life places huge demands on our time.  
Everyone is in a hurry, with too much to do.  
So, unless we schedule a regular time to pray every day, we probably won't pray at all! 
When something becomes important to us, we schedule it right into our daily life. We don’t leave it to chance. 
We usually won't miss a meal. 
We stop everything to watch our favorite TV show.
We text or phone people to share the latest gossip. 

If we want to deepen a friendship with someone, we schedule times and places to meet with that person: we never leave these meetings to chance; we battle to make space for them in our day. 
And, yet, we do not make any time for GOD:  GOD, who keeps us in existence from second to second!  
What is true for relationships between human beings is true between human beings and GOD.  
If we want to deepen our friendship with GOD we must schedule times and places to meet Him in prayer.  We cannot leave these meetings with GOD to chance, to when we get around to them.  
We must persevere in prayer, if we want to experience the power of prayer day-to-day, week-to-week,  year-to-year!

We should not look for immediate results when we pray.
While we must persevere in our praying, we should not look for immediate results when we pray.
We are so accustomed to having everything done instantly: 
Instant Coffee, Instant Banking, Instant Potatoes, Same-Day Delivery!  We want immediate results.
Warning: Cancel out that ‟instant” stuff when you approach GOD in Prayer! 
GOD never sleeps.  
GOD hears our prayers. 
GOD keeps rearranging  re-synchronizing events, keeps offering us the answer to our prayer –  His answer to our prayer!
GOD responds to every prayer —  in His own time and in His own way.  
GOD’s time may be years after we first prayed.  

GOD’s response, His answer to our prayer may be very different from what we expected or wanted. 

Our Lord gives us what we need, not what we want.

For example:
I think I need a car to travel around the city.

So, I pray, using the song written by Janis Joplin, 

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz ? 

Instead, GOD gives me a bicycle: 
Because I did not need a Mercedes Benz!  
I merely, selfishly wanted one! 

However, my prayer was answered: 
I got where I needed to go.

Prayer has power. 

To tap that power, we must persevere at it, and not look for overnight results.

Why all this emphasis on praying?


We are obligated to pray!

We are obligated to pray, but we often ignore it or do it poorly. 

Our Lord Jesus imparted several teachings about the importance of prayer and how to do it:
Luke 18:1-8 -- Then he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. Please see the full excerpt above.  

Matthew 6:5-13 -- “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.“This is how you are to pray:Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,your will be done, on earth as in heaven.Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts,as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test,but deliver us from the evil one."
Matthew 7:7–8 -- “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."
Luke 11:5–8 -- And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’  and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence."
After Our Lord's Ascension, His Apostles continued to instruct and guide the early Christians about their obligation to pray, and how to pray worthily.  

For example:

Saint John said, in his First Letter, 1 John 3:21–22 -- 
Beloved, if [our] hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

Saint Paul wrote in the Letter to the Hebrews -- Hebrews 4:16 --  
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Colossians --Colossians 4:2 -- said: 
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."

Saint Paul wrote to the Thessalonians -- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:  
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Saint Paul wrote to the Ephesians -- Ephesians 6:18
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people."
The apostles laid a heavy emphasis on faithful praying because...

Our Lord Jesus constantly prayed to His Father.  
Luke 5:15-16 -- The report about [Jesus cleansing a leper] spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.
Many, many  times, Our Lord Jesus spent His whole night in prayer.  
Luke 6:12 -- In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God.

So, if He considered praying
to be that important,
so should we.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October - Month of the Rosary

A few days late for the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7th), but remember this is the month of the Rosary!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Taking Back the Sabbath...One Diocese at a Time

Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans recently instructed the Catholic schools of the archdiocese to stop scheduling activities, especially sporting events, on Sundays.  His stated intention is to redirect the lives of his flock toward worship on Sundays and family activities close to home.  So far, his directive is meeting with cooperation and even some relief among the Catholics of his diocese.

The Archbishop explained his decision by saying:
“It’s rooted in the fact that people have a number of obligations and commitments. Our society is fast-paced...In living such a hectic life, people neglect sometimes, not purposefully, the very basics of faith and family.”  (via The Advocate)
Upon re-reading the first few books of the Old Testament recently, it was striking how frequently God the Father emphasized that we are to keep holy the Sabbath.  A quiet, family-centered Sunday was the norm in our culture for a very long time, up until about 40 years ago when things started to descend into a 7 day frenzy of constant activity.  Recently I've been trying to scale back activities on Sunday and the spiritual benefits have become increasingly evident.  It actually hasn't even been that difficult.  Just knowing that there will be no shopping or running errands on Sunday makes the day more peaceful without much more effort.

The good that comes from  setting aside one day a week in order to worship God and to nourish family life seems like it should be self-evident   But, sometimes we really don't know what is good for us and even if we do know, we're not always sure how to do it.  It's a little bit like children who don't want to take their regular nap.  They resist the nap because they don't want to miss out on anything and it doesn't seem necessary.  But, then when they're sleep deprived they become restless and irritable and they spiral into a melt down.

God's plan for us is always for the good.  Try keeping the Sabbath as a day of rest.  Guarantee you'll be the better for it.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Two Popes, One Faith, One Message

Despite what the media might try to say, Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI have the same message with the same ideas in mind.  Though the popes have different personalities (all people do) and different ways in which they go about communicating the Gospel message, for both popes the ultimate goal and message are the same.  I even fell into an initial mindset, where I saw the two popes as different.  It is easy for people to pin a predecessor up against a successor (often happens with bishops), yet there is no comparison to be made.

The pictures above (thanks to Catholic Memes) show the beautiful fact that both popes share a similar message; a message that supports the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church.

In the end these two men of faith are dear friends, they share similar beliefs and the unity that is faith in Christ Jesus and his holy Church.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pope's Solution for Kids Who Won't Move Out - "Stop Ironing His Shirts!"

Pope Francis met with  many different groups in Assisi today.  At one stop, a mother asked how to get her 30 something year old son to propose to his girlfriend and move out of the house. The pope's answer?  "Stop ironing his shirts!"  Good advice, no?

Some other thought provoking lines from the pope today (paraphrased since the official transcripts are not out yet):
“What is the peace which (Saint) Francis received, experienced and lived, and which he passes on to us? It is the peace of Christ, which is born of the greatest love of all, the love of the cross,” 
Marriage is a real vocation just like priesthood and religious life.
Celibacy is not a negative decision, but a great "yes" to God
A Christian cannot co-exist with the spirit of the world,  Worldliness “leads us to vanity, arrogance, pride. And this is an idol, it is not of God.”
On visiting the disabled children:  “We are among the wounds of Jesus.  Jesus is hidden in these kids, in these children, in these people. On the altar we adore the flesh of Jesus, in them we find the wounds of Jesus.”

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Remembering Assisi - A Little Oasis of Peace

Last year I was blessed to be able to visit Assisi for a couple of days as a side trip during a stay in Rome.  All I can say is that if you have never been there...Go, Just Go!

The village is nestled into a hillside overlooking a beautiful valley, and it emanates a transcendence and serenity that isn't found in too many other places.  Somehow just driving up the hill lifts your soul out of the hustle and bustle of daily annoyances and drops you into a pillow of calm and quiet.  In addition to the medieval charm of the stone shops and buildings, the frequent passing to and fro of sandal clad friars and sisters adds to the gentle and quiet ambience.  And, of course, the beautiful basilicas housing the mortal remains of St. Francis and St. Clare anchor the town in sanctity and beauty.

As we look forward to the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi and the visit of Pope Francis to that holy place tomorrow, I wanted to share a few photos of that beautiful place.

The Transitus - Passing of St. Francis to Eternal Life

Today is the celebration of the "Transitus."  The day that Franciscans around the world remember the passing of St. Francis of Assisi to eternal life.

The Transitus is celebrated on the eve of the feast day of St. Francis and is a time dedicated to remembering with joy his life and holiness.  More information can be found at the Franciscan Spiritual Center website.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

When Does God Give Us Our Guardian Angel?

One of the most fascinating gifts we receive from God is our guardian angel.  But, when do we receive our guardian angel.... before we're born?  While we're in the womb?  

Peter Kwasniewski at New Liturgical Movement posts an interesting quote from St. Thomas Aquinas on this topic.  Here's what the angelic doctor has to say:
As Origen observes, there are two opinions on this matter [of when a man receives his guardian angel]. For some have held that the angel guardian is appointed at the time of baptism, others, that he is appointed at the time of birth. The latter opinion Jerome approves, and with reason. For those benefits which are conferred by God on man as a Christian, begin with his baptism; such as receiving the Eucharist, and the like. But those which are conferred by God on man as a rational being, are bestowed on him at his birth, for then it is that he receives that nature. Among the latter benefits we must count the guardianship of angels. Wherefore from the very moment of his birth man has an angel guardian appointed to him.
Remember to say a prayer to your Guardian Angel today... and every day!  I remember clearly one morning driving to a meeting with a client in downtown Brooklyn.  For some reason I prayed the guardian angel prayer, something that I was not in the habit of doing on a daily basis.  About fifteen minutes later, absorbed in thought, I started to go when the light turned green without checking the crossing traffic.  Anyone in New York City will tell you to always wait a few seconds when the light changes before moving your car. Well, a big truck came hurtling through the intersection and missed my car by inches.  Immediately my mind went back to the guardian angel prayer I had said only minutes earlier.   For obvious reasons, I try to remember to thank my guardian angel and pray for his assistance very day since then.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Thank You, Little Flower

Thank you, St. Therese.  For your love.  For your example.  For your generosity in spreading the love of the Lord.

“Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing.” 
“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.” 
“When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens,I will spend my heaven by doing good on earth.” 

                                                                                -  St. Therese of Lisieux 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Thinking Of Divorcing Your Spouse? Better Read This!

Day after Valentine's kicks off divorce season -

A friend of the "Academy", Peggy Clores, the Director of Adult Education at Our Lady Of Mercy Parish in Hicksville, New York, emailed me the post below. Peggy said,

"For an article in Huff Post, this was actually right on target for the limitations of secular wisdom.  I recommend that this article be made widely available. You don't know who needs to hear it this very hour. My prayers for all who have been hurt or mislead by this confusion. Our best hope in those circumstances is that God can work all things to the good and heal and minimize the damage. Nothing is impossible for those who stay close to Him and hang onto the hem of His garment.  That being said, let us do our part to turn the tide on this one."

Thanks, Peggy!

Should You Divorce Your Spouse For Your Lover? Consider This First
Posted: 09/19/2013 1:04 am EDT  |  Updated: 09/20/2013 11:33 am EDT

By Lesli Doares for

That's it. You've decided you're leaving today to be with your soulmate. Never again will you settle for the dreary, disconnected existence you've been living, when you can have the breath-stopping, romantic, intoxicating life you've been having in secret during your affair.

Sound familiar? If you're considering ending your current relationship for a new relationship, you may want to slow down and ask yourself these questions first.

Do you really know your lover? 

No one is perfect, but when we're in the throes of infatuation, we have a difficult time seeing any flaws in our partner. Everything they do seems wonderful, the relationship is perfect and nothing will ever change that. You convince yourself that no one has ever made you feel this way before. If you're still in this infatuation stage, you're not seeing the relationship realistically. Everything changes over time, and routine could settle in quickly. Don't forget that your lover knows you're married and is complicit in the lying that having an affair requires.

How real is this relationship? 

Most affairs are conducted in secret, where it's easy for both of you to be on your best behavior for the limited time you get to spend together. Nothing from the outside world has really touched your relationship. It's like being on a perpetual vacation. Once your affair sees the light of day, the fantasy relationship will become part of the real world — with all its boring and repetitive aspects. 

Are you being objective about your marriage? 

Your marriage and spouse will pale in comparison to your affair. It's easy to focus on what's not working in your marriage because the contrast is so stark. Admitting to yourself there might be positive aspects of your marriage and your partner may be inconvenient, but that doesn't mean it's not true. When you're looking for the negative, it's easy to find. The same is true about finding the positive, but you have to be willing to see it. Try working to see the positive in your current relationship.

Are you being honest about your contributions to your marriage? 

If you only see your spouse's failings, you will be likely to repeat your own mistakes in this new relationship as well. Having an affair as a way to address the problems in your marriage is a choice you made. Looking at what led you to pick this option will reveal a lot about you and the role you play in the success of your relationships.

Is your happiness more important than your children's? 

Whether you believe it or not, your spouse will likely be devastated by your decision and its cause. As an adult, they will hopefully find a way to cope. And when you leave a marriage, your children have to leave it, too. Yes, they want you to be happy; they just don't know how much unhappiness it will ultimately cause them. That's because they haven't experienced it yet.

Are you aware of the dismal statistics your new relationship faces?

You won't be coming to this relationship with a clean slate, and that will put stress on it from the start. If you're both leaving marriages to be together, the stress will be that much greater. Second marriages statistically fail at a higher rate than first ones. Those that start as affairs fare the worst of all. 

Are you prepared for the reaction of your friends and family? 

We like to believe that those closest to us want the best for us. This isn't always true when it comes to affairs. It may be a bumpier ride for your lover to be accepted into your existing world. Divorce, under the best of circumstances, divides those closest to us. When infidelity is present, these divisions can be both unexpected and harsh. This may draw you and your lover closer together at first, but can create resentment and distance in the long run.

Escaping the world you created with your partner for the new and exciting one you hope to have with your lover may seem like a good idea now. The unanswerable question is, "Will they look the same in the harsh light of day?" Only time, and the impact of unavoidable collateral damage, will tell.

Meanwhile, a word from Our Sponsor:
The Pharisees approached and asked, "Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?" They were testing him.
He said to them in reply, "What did Moses command you?"
They replied, "Moses permitted him to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her."
But Jesus told them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment.
"But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother (and be joined to his wife), and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh.
"Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate."
In the house the disciples again questioned him about this.
He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."
The Gospel According To Saint Mark [10:2-12]
And now a word from some of Our Sponsor's most devoted followers, helping troubled marriages to be healed and saved, and helping married couples to find peace and happiness again:

... a lifeline for Marriages

A program to Help Couples Heal and Renew their Marriages.
  • Do you feel lost, alone or bored in your marriage?
  • Are you frustrated, hurt or angry with your spouse?
  • Are you constantly fighting? Or, do you simply shut down?
  • Have you thought about separation or divorce?
  • Does talking about it only make it worse? 
    ... Retrouvaille provides marriage help!

The Retrouvaille Program offers tools needed for married couples to rediscover a loving marriage relationship. Thousands of couples headed for cold, unloving relationships or divorce have successfully overcome their marriage problems by attending the program.

Please consult the official Retrouvaille Website for more information.

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!
Take a moment and visit the MOSJ website.